Proper Grammar In The Workplace

Now, more than ever, I’m convinced this country needs to spend more time on education.

Namely, education based on our native language.

I can’t help feeling like this friends, family, readers, anyone who comes across this post — if you use improper grammar (typos don’t count, sometimes mistakes happen), I find you illiterate. And if I’m expected to work for you, I sure expect you to know how to properly communicate with me in a professional matter.

Grammar NaziI don’t care if you are a restaurant manager.

I don’t care if you’re a mechanic.

I don’t even care if you work for NASA. If you know how to send a space shuttle into space and allow a man to skydive from the brink of space, you can learn the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

The other day, a secret shopper was sent into the restaurant in which I work. That’s fine, I’m not trying to hate (and thankfully I wasn’t the one who was shopped). I work for a corporate, so sending people in to subtly make sure we’re doing things according to their standards is understandable, and we always have knowledge of the month they’re coming in.

As I was reading the very detailed 12-page report, I kept getting distracted by some of the grammatical errors found.

  • “When I ordered the fish, the server asked me if I wanted it grilled, blacked, or baked.”
    • This may not seem like a very large deal, I understand, but it’s “grilled, blackened, or baked.” If you don’t even know the menu or the way to order things, how am I supposed to take you seriously when you “judge” myself or my coworkers? (The server was dinged because he didn’t offer fresh ground pepper for a salad, but you don’t know the menu anyway so how am I supposed to believe you?)
  • “When the food arrived, it was hot and delicious, it’s flavor far outstanding the description.”
    • It is what? Oh, wait, that’s right, you just used the incorrect “it’s.”
      • Eye-tee-apostrophe-ess stands for “it is.” As in, “It is hot.” “It is cold.” “It is obnoxious that you’ve made it past eighth grade without this knowledge.”
      • Eye-tee-ess stands for “its.” As in, “The dog wagged its tail.” “Its flavor was wonderful.” A possessive form, to be used in describing something. According to the Google definition, “Belonging to or associated with a thing previously mentioned or easily identified.”

It's vs. Its

All right, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic, but honestly, these are simple mistakes. Of course, if this was a rough draft, it would make sense. I’ve come across some of my own passages where I used the incorrect “your” or “there” (and then pulled a Dobby and punished myself for my idiocy.) But don’t send me a rough draft of a report on myself, or a fellow coworker. Amiright?

Dobby Meme

There’s more than this. I’ve spoken to a local newspaper about a possible internship, and eventually had to lose interest because of how I was responded to.

When I asked about the internship at first, I was told to check back in three weeks as a chair might be opening for a spot. Three weeks later, my e-mail stood thus:

“I know it hasn’t quite been three weeks yet, but I was just touching base to see if that chair might still be opening up for the internship program.

Hope all is well!!


My response stood thus:


“yup – should be opening by end of next week…but there are also other intern candidates in the mix…”


Insert aneurysm.


When I Rule the World
What you mean to be telling me by this, newspaper editor, is that you can’t even address me with proper respect because I’m a possible candidate? Again, this could be me being a tad overdramatic and since to the outside world I’m a “newbie” to all of this (because I didn’t spend 4 years studying it, obviously I don’t have enough “experience” to know better) but I can’t take this seriously. No proper capitalization, a short response letting me know there are other candidates in the mix with no further explanation as to what my next step would be? To me, this shows a lack of interest in me as a candidate (it wasn’t “signed” the way mine was), and how am I supposed to pursue a job with you so I can gain the “experience” I need from someone who represents themselves without even using proper grammar?!


There were more e-mails than just this one, I would like to state that.


I would also like to state I understand he’s most likely busy and “who am I to question a newspaper editor,” but I have to sell myself to you over e-mail to prove I know what I’m talking about, and yes I expect the same from you.


Goodness. Gracious.
  • Capitalization
  • Knowing the differences between the spellings of similar/same words (I know English is an extremely hard language, but if people who don’t speak it as their primary language can get this right, you should be able to as well.)

Part of the reason this irritates me so much is because the way the job market is (especially for communications majors who focused on creative writing), illiteracy in the workplace makes me angry. I would love a writing job, an editing job, any kind of job in this field and I have no luck, so seeing people making way more money than me doing something I would love to do makes me mad when I feel like I can do it better.

This, my friends, is all.


12 thoughts on “Proper Grammar In The Workplace

  1. Your comments about the restaurant menu reminded me of going to an Italian where they offered “cherry” sauce with the steak. When I pointed out that they meant “cherry tomato” sauce, they just didn’t give a stuff. However, it made quite a difference to our enjoyment of the meal. Companies need to communicate properly.

    • Oh gosh, how obnoxious! Even in my server training book for my restaurant I kept finding them. Schools focusing on computers and math and all of that — I understand, but we can’t let the written form of our language pass just because we want people to be “smarter.” Just because I can’t do fractions doesn’t make me not smart. An even balance of everything needs to take place, and businesses need to be paying more attention as well. Cherry sauce is way different than cherry tomato sauce, and they should have apologized and hopefully changed the menu description. Gah, irritates me. Haha

  2. I definitely believe that if you’re in a professional situation then you absolutely must use correct spelling and grammar. Why wouldn’t you? It suggests that you don’t even care enough about your business or customer to read over what you’ve written. I feel awful sometimes when I feel like correcting menus, because I know that while you might not be able to notice mistakes in the menus you have now printed 100 of, you probably are capable of cooking my chicken nicely. It just makes me feel a tad wary about whether or not my food is going to be good. Discriminatory? Probably. It’s just that gosh, you have to proof-read or ask someone else to proof-read things that are a showing off your business.
    That editor sounds like a snob – even without snobby language 😉

    • Exactly! See, you and I and people like us should be offered jobs when we point out those mistakes. You know, in the perfect world where other people cared too. It just bothers me that it’s slowly becoming a topic or an education mark no one pays attention to, and I think it’s one of the most important. When we have to take other languages in high school we have to learn these kinds of structures, but we’re not held as accountable for ours. Makes me wanna rip out my hair. I know what you mean about the chicken though — they’re totally unrelated yet at the same time exactly the same in putting your trust in someone else.

      • Very true! I always thought that about languages. I took French in high school and was taught more French grammar than English.
        Reminds me of in the book 1984 when one of the ‘proles’ says to the other, “next I’ll have to teach you the A, B, C’s!” (or something) and they responded with ‘the what?’
        Future of learning this language right there.

  3. Pingback: Comical typos in restaurant menus: why don’t some businesses bother making the effort to spell properly in their communications? – f words

  4. I, too, work in the service industry. Three or four times per week we receive posts from the area director on our employee site laden with grammatical errors.

    It blew my mind that someone who has more zeroes on her paycheck than are on mine still spelled “congratulations” with a goddamn “D.”

  5. Pingback: Spreading the wordseed. | Content Unrelated


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